The following is an update from Jyoti Fernandes, one of our coordinating group members who is also on the coordinating group of the European Coordination of La Via Campesina…

Jyoti LVC

I have been working on the global governance working group to feed our work in the Landworkers Alliance into the global governance of food. Much of this work has been to participate into the civil society consultations of the Committee on Food Security where I participate in the work related to the Sustainable Development Goals and the High Level of Panel of Experts report on Livestock.

This is a link to the report.

It would be useful if any of our members have comments on this report so that I can feed that into our response from civil society. Please email if you would like to comment.

There are sections of the report that highlight the importance of smallholder farming to the production of food in the world, however through out the future projections assume that the smallholder systems will intensify and specialize to be able to become more efficient and feed into global distribution chains. An example of this in the report is:

“The dairy sector in India is a good example, where large numbers of smallholders contribute to the provision of milk for the surrounding urban markets. Milk production in India increased from 78 million tonnes in 1999 to 116 million tonnes in 2009, an increase of 49 percent (FAOSTAT), with an average herd size (cows and buffaloes) of only 3.3 head (Wright et al., 2011). Intensification may lead to a degree of mechanization of operations on the farm, at which point production may become industrial. This enables farmers to invest in more targeted technologies and enables greater market integration, offering the possibility of improved economies of scale. Monogastric species (pigs and poultry), in particular, due to their high feed conversion ratios and short reproductive intervals, are well suited to the rapid intensification of production. “

“In developing countries mixed crop–livestock systems produce 65 percent of beef, 75 percent of milk and 55 percent of lamb, the vast majority from smallholder systems. Mixed crop– livestock farming systems are crucial to contributing to the livelihood of almost 2 billion people in developing countries, half of whom are poor, and to global food security (Wright et al., 2011). With limited land and water resources and environmental concerns relating to the impact of agricultural practices, more production in developing countries will come from increasing the productivity of existing resources (intensification). A key question is whether this intensification in developing countries will result in more specialization and industrialization, as is the case in developed countries, or in the intensification of smallholder mixed systems. The answer will depend very much on country situations and trajectories, economic drivers, and public policies (see HLPE, 2013a). As production systems become more efficient, less feed is needed to produce a given unit of livestock product, with positive effects on the environment. “

The Landworkers’ Alliance response to this report is part of the wider response from Via Campesina where we underline how important it is to support small-scale livestock producers even though globally we need to radically decrease meat production and consumption. We felt that there needs to be a clear distinction between different models of livestock production- emphasizing default livestock production and eliminating intensive industrial factory farming.

Our response is that the FAO should put more emphasis on maintaining and developing mixed diverse smallholder farming systems and develop what they call “circular farming systems”.

We say that the work of the Committee on Food Security should not be about integrating mixed smallholder farms into global food chains but should instead emphasize developing local and territorial markets. We highlighted the campaign that the Landworkers Alliance has been working on with our fellow farmers in India about the importance of small scale dairy and impact of trade on small scale producers.

We felt that FAO work should focus on the development of smallholder agriculture as mixed systems- not specializing or intensifying, promoting sustainable livestock systems using grass and fibrous crop residues and look at systems to integrate other waste foods into animal diets -for monogastrics (pigs and chickens) in particular.

We felt that research and development budgets should be given to projects to do things like finding alternatives to grain, maize and soya bean in animal feeds. Plus more research should go into increasing the efficiency of animal draught power.

Civil society consultation in Antalya , Turkey

As part of ECVC I also helped organise the Civil Society Consultation for the Food and Agriculture Organisation held in Antalya, Turkey this May where we brought representatives from across the region to present our views on an equal level to the government representatives setting the priorities for FAO work in Europe and Central Asia. It was such an exciting gathering with grassroots representatives coming together to both build our networks and try to influence all the diplomats. During the sessions our steering committee had meeting with the Director General of FAO – Graziano de Silva where I got into an argument about nuclear breeding techniques for seeds, but otherwise went quite well. We did manage to get a few of our ideas heard and integrated into the work plan for the region and we will carry on trying!

This is our statement

European Level Food Policy Work

On a European Level I have been regularly working with the Common Agricultural Policy civil dialogue groups attending meetings on the greening measures, pig meat, direct payment, and netowrking meetings with other NGO’s in Brussels. However in the wake of Brexit this work has become not so relevant to the Landworkers’ Alliance. I will however continue to work with a group called IPES- International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, led by Olivier de Schutter, because they are working on developing an alternative set of policies for a European Food System and I think this work will help us come up with a good plan for what a UK agricultural policy should look like. Here is some information about this.

Here is a link to their last, very useful, report.

There are also two other initiatives that I have been working with and LWA members can get involved as well. They are:

Agroecology Europe

Agroecology Europe intends to place agroecology high on the European agenda of sustainable development of farming and food systems. It wants to foster interactions between actors in sciences, practices and social movements, by facilitating knowledge sharing and action. It aims at the creation of an inclusive European community of professionals,practitioners, and more generally societal stakeholders in agroecology.

Agroecology Europe is open to all individuals, groups and institutions interested in promoting agroecology, and aims to define its agenda through their participatory engagement. A website is being designed and will be launched soon.

People willing to express their interest in Agroecology Europe can send an email to the Secretary:

Developing a European Agroecology Learning and Training Network

This network will focus on the vision of agroecology outlined in the Declaration of the International Forum on Agroecology. We will focus primarily on farmer-led and social movement learning networks including horizontal farmer-to-farmer learning, demonstration farms, agroecology schools and cultural exchanges. Because agroecology is simultaneously practical, scientific and political it requires training and learning that reflects these dimensions.

The development of a European Agroecology Learning and Training Network links up with the international movement coordinated by La Via Campesina to build Agroecology Learning Institutions and Agroecology Schools. There are many exciting initiatives, approaches and models to these horizontal learning institutions in the global south, but there is less understanding about what is happening, or coordination of activities, in European territories and countries.

How can these grassroots educational institutions be connected up and strengthened to advance agroecology, food sovereignty and the autonomy of food producers in Europe? What are the most promising education approaches and initiatives, what are the barriers, where there are gaps, and how we can work together? How can we position ourselves to mobilize resources through mainstream institutions and funders (e.g. the E.U.) to support development of agroecology? The European Coordination of La Via Campesina and allies are thus convening this network to pursue and develop these questions.

The goal of this work is to develop a European Agroecology Learning and Training network. Phase I of this project will take place between June and November 1, 2016. We will implement a process that brings together protagonists in grassroots agroecology training and learning from across Europe to develop the network. Phase I of building this network will include preliminary outreach and research, a critical gathering and planning meeting at Nyéléni Europe, the formalization of the network and then a broad program to enable exchange, funding bids and political work to strengthen farmer autonomy, food sovereignty and social movements.

The objectives of this work are to:

  •   Establish a European wide map and database of the most relevant agroecology training initiatives in each country.  This will increase the visibility of these networks and provide a basis for developing it further cross-country wise(including a common definition and criteria for agroecology training).
  •   Establish a formal network and governing structure for a European Agroecology Learning and Training Network to increase capacity for the exchange of best practices, international skill-sharing, collective political action and large funding bids.
  •   Gain a better understanding of the common barriers and obstacles as well of the common opportunities across Europe to identify opportunities for collective responses and joint projects through the European Agroecology Learning and Training Network.
  •  Apply for substantial funds to support the network and the national and territorial training initiatives.

To get involved please email